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Drayton Park Primary School children mediate playground fallouts

School introduces pupil-mediating scheme - 'it's nice to feel like you did something to help'

06 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Year 5 peer mediators Ava Wood, Luca-Farren-Kerr, Romy Nicholls, Owen English and Samuel Lynch

EVERYONE remembers the playground fallouts, taking sides with their friends over who they think is right and wrong.

Children at Drayton Park Primary School in Highbury are tackling these rows head-on after being trained as mediators to lower tensions between their fellow pupils.

Having been trained by the Quakers in Britain organisation, the Year 4 and 5 pupils don bright caps in the playground, take two pupils to one side and talk through the issues.

Carol Howe, a behavioural teaching assistant, said: “I think we took a whole new look at how we can empower our children in line with our school rules.

“They really enjoyed doing it. Mediating is a skill we need in life and we want to help them grow.”

Working in pairs, the mediators have to work out where the conflict stems from and take them into a classroom to talk.

Year 4 mediators Terry Heim, Koppany Szents, Kimara Henry and Paige Russell-Moran with teacher Carole Howe

There are tight rules about what the children can engage in.

Any physical fights or chases are only for adults to deal with, they shouldn’t mediate with any older children and they must remain impartial, even when mediating with their friends.

Two years ago, peer mediators began to be elected by their peers and have worked on a rota basis since.

“It’s about a child thinking about who they feel would be helpful and who would listen to their problems,” said Ms Howe.

Romy Nicholls, a year- five peer mediator, said: “I like it because it makes me feel mature and it’s nice when you resolve an argument. It’s nice to feel like you did something to help.”

Luca Farren-Kerr, also a Year 5 problem solver, said: “It’s definitely a good feeling. It’s an experience because if you solve an argument you feel like there’s one problem out of the way. So everyone can play much more smoothly.”

The school is thought to be one of few in London which have joined the scheme, according to Ellis Brooks from Quakers in Britain, which supports the national Peer Mediation Network.

In Scotland, a similar peer mediation scheme has received government- endorsed funding from the Heritage Lottery Grant to be taken into all schools.

Mr Brooks said the initiative came from the Quakers’ belief in peace, although he said it was not a religious scheme.

“It’s skills anyone can develop,” he said. “My experience is that young people tend to be better at learning mediation than adults.

“Children could grow up in a world of mediation, whether that’s saving the NHS millions from law suits to international diplomacy or family mediation.”

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